The Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp. will receive a second donation from the County Board for 2019 despite not meeting the conditions for that contribution laid down in the county’s annual budget.
Supervisors voted 12-7 on Aug. 20 in favor of a resolution that provides KCEDC with up to $7,300 to purchase Synchronist, a business retention and expansion software package, and LOIS, software that can be used to market existing land and available buildings in Kewaunee County.
When the board passed the 2019 county budget last November, it voted to donate $40,000 to KCEDC – $30,000 right away and $10,000 to be released after the third quarter if the private-public partnership reached its fundraising goals, especially with regard to matching public-sector investments with private-sector contributions.
Richard Baker, KCEDC executive director, conceded in a cover letter that the goals have not been reached.
“I am not surprised not surprised that we are behind in our fundraising,” Baker said. “It takes time to reorganize a struggling nonprofit and to rebuild the community’s trust and their financial support.”
In his verbal annual report to the County Board at the Aug. 20 meeting, Baker presented figures that through June 30 KCEDC had received $34,500 for the year from the public sector and $19,500 in private investments. The goals were $51,000 and $61,000 respectively.
The organization has historically averaged $52,814 from the public sector and $39,916 from private donors, he noted.
“It was a very aggressive, I guess, goal set by our board in thinking that we could go from $40,000 to $61,000 in one year’s time,” Baker said. “I’d be happy just to make the $40,000 this year.”
Baker was hired earlier this year after a volatile period in which the County Board drastically cut its contribution to KCEDC and executive director Jennifer Brown resigned.
“We need to grow our local investors, and that’s going to take time,” he said.
Synchronist will allow KCEDC to survey county businesses regarding business activity, workforce and industry trends, and individual challenges, County Administrator Scott Feldt said in a memo regarding the request. LOIS (Location One Information System) is a software that lists available land and building space for businesses to locate and/or develop.
Supervisor Tom Romdenne reminded the board of the benchmark set at budget time.
“It’s my understanding that KCEDC has a substantial amount of money in checking and savings, and I’m just wondering, if it’s so important, why they’re not using their internal funds to pay for this rather than using county funds,” Romdenne said.
Voting to approve the allocation were Supervisors Gerald Paape, Cory Cochart, Charles Wagner, Robert Weidner, Scott Jahnke, Thomas Cretney, Aaron Augustian, Mary Ellen Dobbins, Virginia Haske, Lee Luft, John Mastalir and Kaye Shillin.
Voting no in addition to Romdenne were Supervisors Daniel Olson, Charles Schmitt, Douglas Doell, Kim Kroll, Linda Teske and Joe Lukes.